Students at Knox College are concerned with the catering policy on campus – specifically, the practice of using Bon Appétit. Clubs say this snuffs out catering options, as they are forced to use Bon Appétit to cater their events if the budget is over $150. If clubs don’t like it, then they are simply out of luck, as Student Senate Dining Committee Chair and junior Leonard Monterey explained.
According to Monterey, many students do not like having to use Bon Appétit for any international club food catering. For these and other clubs, the policy becomes an even greater obstacle if the students want to host an event in Seymour, because they will have to use Bon Appétit’s catering service regardless of the cost.
Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich said that the policies regarding “the first right of refusal” in catering are not unique to Knox. Many food service companies employ this policy with schools that outsource food services.
“That’s a pretty standard policy among schools that outsource food services,” Ehrlich said.
However, shortly after Bon Appétit was hired, Ehrlich noted that the administration noticed complaints among students and the first right of refusal contract with Bon Appétit. In light of the complaints made by students and clubs on campus, the administration made an exception to the policy this year.
“We made an exception for student organizations that said if your event is under $150, then the policy doesn’t apply to you,” Ehrlich said.
Even though the administration has made an exception for events that are under $150, Ehrlich said that it is still recommended that clubs and sports events use Bon Appétit, because any profit that Bon Apptit makes goes directly back to the school.
“Would you rather have the money you’re spending on catering for your events go back to the college for offsetting other costs, or would you rather have that money go to Hy-Vee?” Ehrlich asked rhetorically.
Assistant Director of Athletics Lexie Vernon has dealt with this rule on multiple occasions for athletic department functions and meals for when students are traveling for competition. She noted that the policy to use campus dining services for catering has been around even before Bon Appétit signed on.
“The best practice in athletics has always been to utilize [Campus Dining Services’] services whenever possible,” Vernon told TKS through email. “I don’t believe that has really changed with the onboarding of Bon Appétit just a reiteration of that policy.”
Despite the policy for events under $150, students and clubs still have issues with Bon Appétit’s catering policies. Senior Sam Klingher, the president of the Knox Democrats, expressed his frustrations with Bon Apptit and their catering services after a recent event held by the organization.
Klingher also mentioned that the details of Bon Appétit’s catering service were poorly advertised, but the Knox Democrats decided to use them for one of their events because of a recommendation from the college. During the Lieutenant Governor’s Candidates Forum hosted by the Knox Democrats on Jan. 16, Klingher said they were charged $40 by Bon Appétit for using a table cloth and pitchers of water.
“If I had known it was going to cost me $40 ahead of time, then I would not have used Bon Appétit,” Klingher said.